Join Bookmachine for wisdom a-go-go

Last month I did a wee talk online for Bookmachine, a group for publishing professionals. If you’re not already a member, I would highly recommend joining up. There is masses on there from connecting with industry pros to learning more about how to progress in publishing, the founder Laura Summers has created a wonderful resource.

My talk was on public speaking for their Wednesday Wisdom lunchtime sessions. It was amended slightly to include presenting online since it may be a bit of time before we’re back to public speaking. I realised, watching it back, that I am incapable of finishing a complete sentence. I must be a nightmare to transcribe. However, the encouraging thing was that if someone as scatter-brained as me can do a significant amount of public speaking, then so can anyone.

Here are a few top tips for presenting online (to watch the complete talk, you’ll have to join Bookmachine):

  1. Turn off your phone and the phones of anyone who will be within earshot of the mic.
  2. Close any windows in case of car alarms, children playing, neighbours yelling.
  3. Ensure the light is in front of you and not behind you.
  4. Keep water and tissues close by so you don’t have to go get them if you need them.
  5. Tell everyone in your household what you’re doing so they can answer the house phone or the doorbell and keep the door locked in case of younger children wandering in.
  6. Check what is behind you and within shot – but don’t over-style your background as that is as distracting as a messy one. Best to stick to as plain as you can manage so that your audience keeps their attention on what you’re saying.
  7. If it goes badly, do another one. And another one. Until nerves and bad sessions are things of the past.

“Gryffindor is the most hetero-normative of all the Hogwart houses”

Last night I popped my BAME in Publishing cherry and went along to the rather swish HarperCollins building for an event hosted by HC’s new employee BAME group Elevate. It was a fantastic way to meet other colleagues in publishing and everyone was just so nice (although how is it that everyone in book publishing now appears to be 25 and a supermodel?).
The highlight of the night – unexpected for me as I don’t remember being told it would be happening – was the appearance of Amrou Al-Kadhi or Glamrou to give them their most apt name. The ever-awesome Sarah Shaffi interviewed Glamrou, journalist and Muslim drag queen, about their new book Unicorn. What they were wearing was just spectacular (see image above). But, before I get too Daily Mail and start talking just about a person’s dress, it was a funny, candid conversation about navigating the intersectionality of their experience. Amrou did a regular column for The Independent and said they found that it was often the case that left-leaning folks want Muslim writers to write on accepted Muslim stereotypes rather than permitting us to write whatever the hell we want. That part really resonated with me as I had that issue too. The only folks who really acknowledged how odd it is to only commission people of colour with reference to their background was regrettably (and weirdly) the right wing press but my own political sensibilities wouldn’t allow me to write for them (although it could be argued that Metro is owned by the most right wing of all the news organisations and I did plenty for them). I can’t unpack now why the left seem to ghettoise people of colour into talking only about their race or religious experience (plus that’s a massive generalisation based on my narrow experience), but I will say that the Q&A was terrific and I found myself nodding along throughout.
Most hilarious quote: “Gryffindor is definitely the most hereto-normative house.” This was in answer to Sarah’s question of “which house would you be in?” after revealing that they are a huge Harry Potter fan. They are Slytherin in case you were wondering.
Afterwards I bought a copy of the book (it is out on Thursday and I have begun reading it and must say it is great so far) and got Amrou to sign it for me.
Afterwards I was speaking to someone and, of course, like a nan from the 1950s, forgot the ‘they’ pronoun for this wonderful non-binary person. “He’s fabulous!” I said. But then I saw that this was how they’d signed my book. No, no Glamrou, YOU’re fabulous.